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Science Diplomacy gains political attention in Europe

20 December 2023

Coimbra Group, represented by its Office Director Emmanuelle Gardan, participated in the first European Science Diplomacy Conference, organised in Madrid on 18-19 December in the framework of the Spanish Presidency of the Council of the EU.

The event gathered several hundreds of participants from across the science and diplomacy spheres, among them science counsellors to national governments/embassies/EU Delegations, international scientists, representatives from the EU Science Diplomacy Alliance and H2020 science diplomacy projects, EU high-level officials, and stakeholders.

The conference has addressed the four pillars of science diplomacy identified through the European Research Area (ERA) Forum Sub-Group on the Global Approach in the past months:

  • Using science diplomacy to tackle geopolitical challenges in a fragmented, multipolar world;
  • Making European diplomacy more strategic, effective and resilient through scientific evidence and foresight;
  • Strengthening science diplomacy in EU and Member States’ delegations and embassies and fostering global science diplomacy outreach;
  • Building capacity for European science diplomacy.

Several speakers and participants made the case for the importance of the social sciences and the humanities and of interdisciplinarity in science diplomacy. Universities have a strategic role to play in many areas. This includes the development of new training opportunities in science diplomacy where there is currently a strong imbalance between demand and supply.

The opening ceremony counted with the presence of the Commission’s Director General for Research and Innovation Marc Lemaître, while the Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth Iliana Ivanova delivered a video message. A replay of the whole conference is available.

The importance of the conference stems from the fact that science diplomacy efforts in the EU remain largely uncoordinated, lacking synergies and an EU-wide approach. In September 2021, the Competitiveness Council called upon the European Commission and the European External Action Service to develop a European science diplomacy agenda.

In this context, the European Commission recently launched five informal working groups to develop potential elements of a future European framework for science diplomacy, in a co-creation process. We are very pleased that Coimbra Group Office Director Emmanuelle Gardan got selected to join the cross-cutting working group on the definition, principles and EU added value of European science diplomacy, and looking forward to their contributions.

The Madrid European Science Diplomacy Conference has certainly demonstrated a growing interest for science diplomacy at all levels. Its outcomes (published here) should now contribute to guide the development of a common European approach.